It Can Happen…..
It can happen….second chances. Yes, they really do exist. While you WILL have to work harder than ever to get it, it can be done. Kelly is your proof.
Kelly was released from CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) October of 2015. The last six months of her sentence working for CAL Fire, fighting the California Wildfires. I thought that would be the hardest part of her sentence. Well, I didn’t realize being home would be almost as hard. The confusion of having your “own” house and bed. Being able to actually go places. You would think it would be all bliss. No, not quite. Also, dealing with an “over-zealous” probation officer with immediate job requirements. The odds of success can be really stacked against you. I honestly did not realize how overwhelming it could be.
Once Kelly started to get her routine again, she started applying for jobs again. I can remember her being excited about certain jobs, but always worrying which job application would have “the box”. The box to check if you had been convicted of a felony. I know that she would leave that blank with the hope to make it to the next “round” of the application. Then, if asked, would try and explain the situation. She applied for quite a few jobs. She eventually landed a full time position. We waited on edge for her background check to come through. Then a crazy thing happened, her offer letter came through. It was amazing ! We didn’t hear another word about a background check for quite a while. She started work and was doing great ! 6 months in, there was a rumor. Somebody heard her name outside of work that knew of her past and mentioned to an employee of the company she worked at and did they know that she had been to prison. That employee felt the need to share it with the “higher ups”. Then all hell broke loose. Come to find out someone “slipped” up and the background was never done. The decision to keep or remove Kelly went before the board of directors. What’s crazy is she wasn’t even in a management position, I believe they were very nervous that there might me a legal issue. Well, it didn’t matter, there was no way they wanted a “felon” on their payroll. Kelly was let go. It was the first time I felt like maybe there was no second chance. Maybe it would always be this way. A lot of people view felons all the same. Violent, non-violent, doesn’t matter. Bad, always bad. Unless they have been affected by incarceration, they really don’t understand it seems.
Depression started to creep in for Kelly. There were some tough times for a couple months. Went through a couple of temporary jobs. One of the staffing agencies that she went through found out about her background. I believe they were a bit puzzled. Kelly had received very positive feedback from one of their clients. The agency sat down with Kelly and talked to her about it. They didn’t think twice and kept finding her jobs. Eventually, they found her a great job ! They didn’t give up on her and Kelly never gave up on herself. Yes, it can be hard to find that company or person that just cares about good hard work, but they are out there. Just need to keep trying.
It has been quite a while since Kelly started this job. She has been doing great ! Even went back to school and will receive her degree sometime next year. In between applying for jobs, Kelly would reach out to some of the women she was incarcerated with. She would help them with legal issues or help them fill out the right forms they needed. She also started getting questions from people reading our blog (www.orangeisthenewblog.com) . Some had questions on the process of incarceration, what to expect, or how she was able to get through it. Kelly ended up reaching out to them and helping when they needed help. She has made the most out of the situation. We both continue to try our best and help others. Kelly is working on starting a non-profit to help female ex-felons to work on resumes, find work, get their GED's among many other things. She feels she was given a chance for that second chance, now it's her turn to give back.